News & Updates

Out Here, It’s Trash: Apple Cores, Orange Peels, and Other “Natural” Items

Guest - November 6, 2016

Dallas, TX:

When talking to people at booths and in workshops, we’re often told that one of the most surprising things they learned about Leave No Trace is not throwing or leaving “natural” food items, like apple cores, banana or orange peels, on the trail or out in nature.

“It’s natural”, “It’ll help the wildlife”, “It’s organic”, “It’s good for the soil”, we’ve heard them all. Chances are you’ve done it, we know we did before we learned how destructive it really is. It seems like common sense to those who are educated in it and yet, not so common for everyone else. We hope to provide that education and inspire you to change your thoughts about leaving food items in nature, and then teach others you know that food scraps are still trash when we’re in these outdoor spaces shared by humans and wildlife.

Tossing Food Attracts Wildlife

Whether it’s an apple core from the window of a moving car, or an orange peel casually left on the side of a trail, our food waste attracts wildlife to areas with high human activity. Food thrown alongside roads draws wildlife nearer to roadways and increases the likelihood they will end up as road kill. Scraps tossed on the trail bring wildlife closer to the trail corridor as they seek out food.

One apple core will not completely disrupt the local ecosystem, but cumulatively, we know that feeding wildlife damages their health, alters their natural behaviors and exposes them to predators and other dangers. This is because when an animal finds or receives human food consistently over time by campers and visitors, they no longer seek their own food in nature. This is extremely dangerous because, like humans, animals need a varied diet to get all the nutrients to be healthy, strong, and in good reproductive health. When going to the campground or trail is an easy meal of fruit or human processed foods, they eat and get full on single food items instead of a range of food items that all provide different nutrients. So when that squirrel or deer or bird, who looks so hungry, comes up to eat trail mix out of your hand, know that you’re putting the animal at risk of a healthy life, a prolonged existence, and the opportunity for healthy offspring. 

Enjoy your world. Leave No Trace.


Leave No Trace’s Donielle Stevens and Aaron Hussmann are part of the 2016 Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainer Program that provides free, mobile education to communities across the country. Proud partners of this program include Subaru of America, REI, Fjall Raven, ENO, Deuter, Thule, and SmartWool.

Let’s protect and enjoy our natural world together

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